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After a summer of flight delays and cancellations, federal authorities issue an ultimatum to airlines

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After a grueling summer for air travelers who have seen delayed and canceled flights, the federal government is taking additional steps to help the troubled passengers.

The Department of Transportation tells airlines to come up with their own customer service improvements or the agency will go ahead with a plan to order a rule change.

The department is also creating a website, due to be launched in two weeks, which will hopefully easily show each airline’s policies regarding cancellations and delays.

Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg called the stoppages unacceptable.

“The message to airlines is that you have to make it easier for passengers to understand their rights. And you need to support passengers when they experience delays or cancellations,” he said in an interview that aired Friday on NBC’s “TODAY.”

In the first six months of the year, 24% of U.S. flights were delayed and 3.2% canceled, according to data from the Department of Transportation.

The department says airlines are most at fault for overflying flights and then offering confusing rules for cash refunds and vouchers.

Airlines say there is a shortage of pilots. American Airlines said in July it could take three years to return to full national capacity, citing a lack of pilots.

The busy summer travel season has seen headache-inducing holiday weekends, and delays and cancellations have exacerbated the misery for those already paying high prices for tickets. Labor Day weekend, which sees a large number of travelers, is just two weeks away.

The Transport department earlier this month announced a proposed new rule to strengthen protection for travelers requesting refunds from airlines. It said it has received “a flurry of complaints about air travel” since 2020.

That new rule would ensure that domestic flights delayed by three hours are eligible for refunds (six hours for international ones), as well as flights where the destination airport is changed, the department said.

The airline industry said in a statement that its members adhere to federal laws and regulations regarding cash refunds, and that “airlines are committed to providing the highest level of customer service and are committed to working with travelers to accommodate their individual circumstances.” to grab.”

Travel experts recommend always having a backup plan in case something goes wrong, and that if passengers can fly earlier in the day, they should too.


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